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When compared to cities like Austin or Nashville, Denver isn’t nationally recognized for its music scene. The biggest acts in pop, folk, and EDM usually play in our Texas sister city before heading off to play sold out shows in LA, but that doesn’t mean Denver is devoid of talented musicians. The truth is, the mile high city boasts a flourishing local music scene emerging with a loud crescendo.

Here, six Denver bands explain what it means to be a musician in this burgeoning western city. From dreamy electronica to soul-lifting folk, I’ve chosen my favorite songs for blasting on your stereo, adding to your road trip playlist, and listening to live this summer.

1) Inner Oceans

This ethereal song has dreamy beats and ghostlike vocals that induce a deep sense of contemplation. Play it while you’re cruising along an endless mountain road—the fluid instrumentals make it a good fit for being in motion.

What’s the story of how Inner Oceans came to be?

“I ran away from home, ate too much acid in California, went crazy, meditated a lot, went to college, fell in love, dropped out of college, started a band, toured, broke up the band, learned ableton, lived in Iowa, lived in San Francisco, found a process, wrote “Ready Your Ghost”, started Inner Oceans, Charlie had amazing ideas/joined the band, Julia can do anything/joined the band, completed the circuit last year with the addition of Bones and Jeff (Drummer, Percussionist), now I’m getting married to the girl I fell in love with at the beginning of this story.”

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“It’s supportive in the way that a small city is, but it’s getting competitive which is also good. While I think it could be even more competitive, that probably will happen as more people continue to move here. Hi Dive is my fave venue on the weekly, Ogden is my fave venue generally, Red Rocks is holy.”

What else do you want the world to know about Inner Oceans?

“Charlie and I both work for a Party Bus non profit called Bus to Show. For better or for worse that’s where I hear most of my favorite new music—so much EDM. But it’s really fun taking people to Red Rocks shows. It definitely makes you dream a bit!”

2) The Patient Zeros

The Hive is a song that should definitely be listened to when you’re sitting outside on a warm July evening, passing a bottle of Stranahan’s around a fire. The Patient Zeros have a deep, soulful sound that’s effortlessly cool, and it’ll make you feel a little more rock n’ roll than you really are.

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What’s the story of how The Patient Zeros came to be?

“Cj and I come from a small town outside of Lansing, MI. We moved to Denver separately, but we both had the same intentions of playing music. We formed the band during the summer of 2012 and haven’t looked back since.”

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“Denver has a fantastic music scene. We are grateful and fortunate to be surrounded by so many great bands. Denver is surely one of the epicenters for the next big musical revolution.”

What else do you want the world to know about The Patient Zeros?

“I actually learned how to play drums with Cj, leading up to a commitment to The Patient Zeros. It’s been an amazing, challenging, and rewarding journey so far and I can’t wait to see how we grow.”

3) Red Fox Run

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By striking a perfect balance between indie-inspired instrumentals and lyrics that reminisce of early alternative rock, Red Fox Run provides many reasons to keep listening. Love Isn’t Love is the perfect accompaniment to that indie playlist you’ve been curating for the last year—press play when you’re at your desk or working in your studio for ultimate productivity.

What’s the story of how Red Fox Run came to be?

“Joshua Hester and Daniel Rondeau met in 2009 at a music school, and began writing together immediately. It wasn’t until early 2014, when Caleb Thoemke and Seth Beamer were brought in, when the band began to take off. “

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“What we like the most about being a musician in Denver is the support system that we’ve been warmly invited to. There are so many people that have risked themselves, invested in us, believed in our potential, and see the value of a well-nourished and invested musical community in the city. Our favorite venue to play in right now might be a venue we haven’t played in yet: The Bluebird. But we will be there on August 1st, opening for My Body Sings Electric.”

What else do you want the world to know about Red Fox Run?

“We shot a music video at a castle!” See it here:

4) Rose Quartz

This groovy song balances cool male vocals over an irresistible beat. And while Rose Quartz does fall under the broad spectrum of indie electronic, something about their sound is intensely compelling. You’ve been warned: this song leaves you no other choice but to get up on your feet and dance.

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Photo Credit: Jason Siegel Photography

What’s the story of how Rose Quartz came to be?

“We all met while playing in different bands in Denver over the years, and it was only a matter of time before we focused our energy into something new.”

“We’ve all been burned out on the music scene at one point or another, and Rose Quartz as a band is centered around the idea that we are going to have as much fun as possible making music together. We take the project quite seriously, but our motto ensures that we’re going to be as creative as possible in the process and keep things from getting stale, both in the studio and on stage.”

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“It may sound cliché, but the weather and change in seasons provides a constant source of inspiration. It’s beautiful that we live in a city where we get to fully experience each season and to be able to observe the collective emotional changes of the people that live here. Also, being in a major city, we’re able to see some of the top billed acts when they come through town, which is constantly inspiring. As far as venues go, we really love playing at The Bluebird and The Ogden Theaters. The traditional theater architecture is so wonderful to experience both from the stage and as a concert goer, and more importantly, the sound at those venues is top notch.”

What else do you want the world to know about Rose Quartz:

“Be sure to check out our Instagram tag #swimacrosstheworld. In going along with our “how do we have as much fun as possible” theme, we try to go swimming whenever we can, especially on tour. It’s our little reminder to “enjoy the ride” and it gives us a little break from thinking about music 24/7. We’d like it to get to the point where when we’re touring, people in other cities will invite us to come hang out at their pools/hot tubs/steam rooms, etc. 🙂 *If you’re reading this, please tweet at us with any & all swimming hole recommendations. :)”

5) The Samuel Edgar Band

With roots in both Americana and folk rock, The Samuel Edgar Band accurately captures the working class disposition with lyrics that truly resonate. This toe-tapping song in particular tells the story of trying to choose between what you should do and what you really want to do. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a backyard Sunday party with friends, corn hole and freshly grilled grub.

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Photo Credit: Topsy Turvy Photobooth

What’s the story of how The Samuel Edgar Band came to be?

“I moved from Santa Cruz, CA to Denver three years ago. That summer I was working on a farm and went into Home Depot for some supplies. The very helpful man at the service desk happened to be Neil Dreger, TSEB’s soon to be bass player.  Neil and I played together in another project for a while and then decided to focus on my original writing as the core of our new group, The Samuel Edgar Band.”

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“I love how much of a family the music scene is here—there are so many good people playing great music and coming out to support one another. On playing at local venues, we feel particularly great playing at The Goosetown Tavern on Colfax.”

What else do you want the world to know about The Samuel Edgar Band?

“We are currently recording a 15 song full-length original album. It will be finished and ready for listening this fall and we are very excited to share it with you. Check us out live at the Underground Music Showcase in late July.”

6) Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends

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This catchy folk track offers an upbeat twist on the haunting, yet captivating vocals that reign in Ruptak’s other songs. It’s a Saturday morning kind of song—the perfect companion to flipping hot blueberry pancakes and dancing in your underwear to kick off a perfect weekend.

What’s the story of how your band came to be?

“I needed a band for the album release of C’est La Vie in 2012. I had recorded most of the instrumentation on that record myself, and I wanted to replicate the same sounds in the live performance. Julie Schmidt (upright bass), Jeb Draper (electric guitar) and I met through the open mic scene and they became the first two members of the Midnight Friends. Anthony Carroll joined in on the drums. Since then, the Midnight Friends have evolved to include Jacob Miller (The Still Tide – electric guitar) and Guy Stapleton (pedal steel – Poet’s Row). My brother, Matt Ruptak, replaced JJ Chamberlain on drums in late 2013.”

What do you like most about being a musician in Denver?

“We love the community that the musicians uphold in Denver. Everyone is supportive of everyone else and it feels like a family. There is an abundance of talent everywhere you look, so you’re rarely bored. There are several places that we hold dear to our hearts: Syntax Physic Opera, The Deer Pile, The Walnut Room, and The Bluebird are some of our favorites.”

What else do you want the world to know about Anthony Ruptak?

“In December of 2013, The Midnight Friends were selected by the US military to perform in GTMO, Cuba as the holiday entertainment for the troops. Over 500 men and women in uniform, accompanied by their families, attended these two performances in Cuba.”

by Michelle Polizzi